Georgia lawmakers have been in session for only 12 days, but they're taking another break to examine the budget.
Last month, legislators spent four days going through Gov. Brian Kemp’s proposed budget cuts. During the first set of conversations around the budget, Kemp told lawmakers his $28.1 billion budget with cuts had “common sense” savings.
Now, both chambers of the General Assembly have decided to replace their previously announced calendar for the legislative session which had been decided up through Day 14, landing on Feb. 10.
The new calendar adopted Wednesday has Wednesday as the last day in session until Feb. 18.
"Good morning. Feels like Friday," House Speaker David Ralston joked on the House floor as the day’s session began. "That’s because it’s about to be."
In the days in between, legislators will wrestle, once again, with proposed budget cuts in areas ranging from mental health programs to criminal justice.
With a slowdown in state revenue in recent years, caused by a drop in tax collections, Kemp has repeatedly alluded to and asked agencies to slash spending by four percent this fiscal year and by six percent in the 2021 fiscal year budget beginning July 1, 2020.
In a letter to all House lawmakers, Ralston told them this “schedule was developed after discussions between House and Senate Appropriations Chairmen and Majority Leaders. I want to thank Chairman [Terry] England and Majority Leader [Jon] Burns for their work on this revised calendar with their counterparts in the Senate.”
For weeks, the House Speaker has foreshadowed a lengthy conversation around the budget, including during a pre-session meeting with reporters and at the Georgia Chamber’s Eggs & Issues breakfast.
A few Republican lawmakers told GPB News Tuesday night they are looking for more information from the Directors of the state’s various agencies to determine where cuts should take place.
In 2010, the General Assembly took an extended budget break, adjourning the session for more than two weeks between Feb. 18 (Day 20) and March 8 (Day 21).
GPB is a state agency and receives partial funding from the state of Georgia.